Hyde Park Picks
Friendly film recommendations from your local indie cinema.
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2nd April 2021

The 8th

Recommended by Sylvia Barber (Young Audiences Officer)

The 8th follows a number of dedicated Irish female activists as they strive to overturn the 8th amendment, banning abortion, that was passed in 1983. Using archive footage throughout the 35 year battle for the right to choose, the film focuses on a number of key events during this period that provoked public demonstrations, culminating in the referendum in 2018.

Documenting an emotive grassroots campaign around an issue that threatened to tear the country apart, the film is never sensationalist or provocative - it merely reflects the sense of injustice felt by so many women and their fight to be heard.

The 8th is now available to stream via the Leeds Film Player until 11th April for £5 – as part of the INDIs Festival.

On Saturday 3rd April at 1pm, all three directors of the film will be taking part in a discussion about the film and the issues raised. This event is FREE but you must book tickets to attend via Eventbrite, and a Zoom link will be sent out shortly before the Q&A.

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24th March 2021

Asunder/Make Film History

As part of the upcoming Leeds based INDIs Festival (aimed at young film enthusiasts and filmmakers aged 15+) we are supporting our friends at Leeds Film, to screen Asunder (UK, 12, 2016, 72min) online on the Leeds Film Player from 29th March to the 30th April for just £5!

Asunder tells the story of what happened to an English town during the First World War, with almost all of its men fighting abroad and its women and children left behind. The North East was in the front line, due to its shipyards and munitions factories. Using archive and contemporary footage and audio, Asunder collages the stories of people from Tyneside and Wearside to uncover what life was like on the home front, with bombs falling on Britain for the first time, conscientious objectors sentenced to death, and women working as doctors, tram conductors and footballers.

The film screening is part of a collaborative FREE project for young filmmakers, Make Film History: Unlocking the Creative of Film Archives which starts with a workshop on Saturday 10th April at 13.00pm (re-scheduled from the earlier date of Saturday 27th March), which will include director Esther Johnson talking about her use of archive footage. The Make Film History project makes available archive films from the BBC, BFI National Archive, Irish Film Institute and Northern Ireland Screen for educational use by young filmmakers. Using examples from Johnson's own films and Make Film History collection, the workshop will demonstrate the rich potential of using archive footage in developing fresh work.

Anyone booking on to this workshop will receive a free ticket to watch Asunder!

Following on from the workshop, we will present a FREE screening of the films created through the Make Film History project. Watch this space for more details on the date for this special event. These films demonstrate the wonderful creative potential of film archive. Operating at the intersection of modern technology and the historical archive, this screening highlights young filmmakers engagement with the enormous untapped potential of film heritage and its integration it into their practice.

Both the Make Film History workshop is available to book on Eventbrite

To find out Make Film History, visit their website here

To find out more about the INDIs Festival and the rest of their month long programme of screenings and events, visit their website here

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17th March 2021

Song of the Sea

Recommended by Sylvia Barber (Young Audiences Officer)

In honour of St Patricks Day, join us to watch our Hyde & Seek family-friendly pick for this week, celebrating Ireland through a whimsical exploration of Gaelic folklore.

Song of the Sea is a contemporary visual delight, which perfectly encapsulates ancient legend and mythology whilst remaining surprisingly contemporary through both reimagined style and storytelling. The film expertly combines soothing songs and imagery, with exhilarating drama and intrigue, to keep all audiences enthralled as Ben and his little sister Saoirse (the last seal-child) embark on a fantastical journey to return to their home by the sea.

Just like its irish folklore Cartoon Saloon counterparts (The Secret of Kells and Wolfwalkers), the film does not shy away from challenging narratives but remains accessible for all ages, through a respectful and gentle exploration and depiction of relevant complex issues and themes.

Today is a great excuse to watch this film, but this gem is great all year round!

Song of the Sea is available via Amazon Prime (no added cost) or can be rented from Google Play or Youtube for £2.49.

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7th March 2021

Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché

Our Hyde Park Pick today is a new virtual release from our friends at Modern Films, Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché (dir. Paul Sng and Celeste Bell).

Poly Styrene was the first woman of colour in the UK to front a successful rock band. She introduced the world to a new sound of rebellion, using her unconventional voice to sing about identity, consumerism, postmodernism, and everything she saw unfolding in late 1970s Britain, with a rare prescience. As the frontwoman of X-Ray Spex, the Anglo-Somali punk musician was also a key inspiration for the riot grrrl and Afropunk movements.

But the late punk maverick didn’t just leave behind an immense cultural footprint. She was survived by a daughter, Celeste Bell, who became the unwitting guardian of her mother’s legacy and her mother’s demons. Misogyny, racism, and mental illness plagued Poly’s life, while their lasting trauma scarred Celeste’s childhood and the pair’s relationship.

Featuring unseen archive material and rare diary entries narrated by Oscar-nominee Ruth Negga, this documentary follows Celeste as she examines her mother’s unopened artistic archive and traverses three continents to better understand Poly the icon and Poly the mother.

To find out more about the film why not check out this great Q&A over on the Modern Films Facebook page which was recorded ahead of the films release, in partnership with Everyman Cinemas and Art & Music Books (The Saatchi Gallery Magazine).

Hosted by Zoë Howe (Co-Writer), the Q&A features co-directors Celeste Bell and Paul Sng alongside Pam Hogg (Fashion Designer) and David Sheppard (Music Editor, Art & Music Books). Find it here.

Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché is currently available to watch on Sky Arts or you can rent it directly from Modern Films and opt to support Hyde Park. Head here for more info.


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5th March 2021

Assassins

Recommended by Robb Barham (Front of House)

Today’s pick – a cautionary tale of tyrannical regimes, prejudice and state control gone completely out of control – is presented in partnership with the Leeds Film Player, a new platform of hand-picked cinematic treats from our friends at Leeds International Film Festival.

Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival last year, Assassins (2020, 104 mins,12) is an investigative documentary of an assassination plot that's as farcical is it is horrifying.

On February 13th 2017, two young women were filmed on CCTV in the busy Kuala Lumpur International Airport, playfully attacking a fellow passenger. However, it soon transpires that the victim is Kim Jong-nam, the exiled half brother of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, who promptly dies within the hour.

What follows is revealed in shocking and surprising coverage of the investigation and the trial that ensues. Whilst there are obvious despotic political machinations at work, there are also intimations of even deeper influences, but Ryan White’s film rightly focuses on the women themselves.

Indeed, the sad and desperate story that brings Siti Aisyah and Đoàn Thj Huong together in a murderous plot, is exposed with surprising access to the notoriously authoritarian Malaysian judicial system, prison audio recordings, and an abundance of personal phone footage and text messages.

Whilst the film directly implicates North Korea’s totalitarian willingness to commit international crimes with impunity (which will be a surprise to no-one), there are also intriguing leads left unfollowed, amidst a labyrinth of insidious diplomatic brinkmanship, which inevitably strengthens it’s own power, as it preys on the most vulnerable.

Assassins can be rented on the Leeds Film Player for £5 until 31st March, alongside a bi-monthly selection of new films and LIFF audience favourites.

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4th March 2021

I Want My Hat Back

Recommended by Sylvia Barber (Young Audiences Officer)

Many of our favourite childhood films have been celebrated and re-explored through the medium of film to bring new life to the stories we love. However, our family-friendly pick for World Book Day, whisks us away to the theatre instead of the cinema for a recorded theatrical performance of the iconic I Want My Hat Back, based on Jon Klassen’s classic children’s picture book, from the National Theatre Archive. The perfect ode and celebration to live art and storytelling.

If like us, you are missing your favourite arts venues and the thrill of being part of the audience, this is a whimsical and entrancing treat will help tide you over until we feel safe to return.

Just like in the book, Bear's hat is gone. He loves his hat. He wants it back but through the magic of theatre, the play of the familiar tale is both respectfully nostalgic but also delightfully innovative, as the book is built upon through flawless songs, comical performances, and expansive storytelling.

The perfect child friendly play brought to you through the magic of the film to be enjoyed at home and most importantly entice your little ones back to their favourite book!

I Want My Hat Back is available to rent and stream via National Theatre at Home.

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16th February 2021

Restless Natives

Recommended by Robb Barham (Front of House)

Highland heist high jinks abound in today’s pick - socially conscious comedy drama, Restless Natives (1985, 90 mins, PG).

Lesser known than Bill Forsyth’s much-loved 80’s trilogy (Gregory’s Girl, Local Hero, Comfort & Joy), and let’s include 1979’s wonderful That Sinking Feeling for that matter, Restless Natives similarly combines gentle humour with a focus on working class lives and a distinct Scottish identity.

Dreaming of a better future for themselves, and to escape their mundane, urban lives, friends Will and Ronnie decide to target rich international tourists by holding up their sightseeing coaches. Armed with just a toy gun and dressed as a clown and wolfman, their growing reputation and celebrity threatens their friendship and their future, as the police start to close in.

Set within the context of record unemployment and a recession that particularly hit the manufacturing industries in the North of England, Wales and Scotland in the early 1980’s, Restless Natives taps into the disaffection, frustration and poverty that resulted from a London-focussed conservative government, whose policies continued to exacerbate the UK’s wealth inequality.

Whilst the film makes great use of Edinburgh itself and the majestic Scottish countryside, it also balances this by locating many scenes within the housing estates and brutalist architecture of its two major cities, for example in a pivotal moment in the Glasgow Necropolis graveyard.

It’s this emotional connection to the social environment and sense of place that grounds the film and allows for the more whimsical, romantic, and mythic elements of the story to shine through. With a rousing theme by Big Country, nonetheless Restless Natives exudes a genuine comic warmth and sense of fun. Can Will ever find a cure for his warts?

Restless Natives is available on the BBC iPlayer until 28th February.